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Friday, November 11, 2011
Recon MOD Live ($400)

By Ryan Stuart
ESPN.com

It's not for everybody. But for those who like to track their ski day, meet your new favorite toy.

So you want to keep track of your ski day: total vertical, fastest speed, biggest air and total runs. Sure, there's an app for that. But what if all of that information displayed real time on a tiny LCD screen right inside your goggles? Last year, Recon Instruments partnered with Zeal Optics to do just that with their Recon Transcend, a goggle with an onboard dashboard that tracked runs, speed, vertical and more. This year, Recon took the technology out of the Transcend, improved it and made it a standalone product that can be plugged into goggles from four different manufacturers, Zeal, Uvex, Briko and Alpina.

WHAT IT IS:
Recon calls it Micro Optics Display or MOD. Basically it's two little black boxes attached by a cable. One box is the rechargeable battery. The other is the brains of the operation with a GPS, three accelerometers, an air pressure gauge, a micro-computer and a mini LCD screen. The GPS, accelerometers and pressure gauge measure speed, vertical, runs, air time and more and display it all on the tiny TV. Using mirrors and prisms, Recon makes the image on the screen appear to be five feet away and 14 inches high. "We've found it to be the optimal distance so your eye doesn't have to refocus when it's going from ski run to screen," says Oliver Springgay, Recon's spokesperson. A wireless joystick-style controller -- strap it to your wrist or belt -- turns the unit on and off and scrolls through the various data screens.

New this year is MOD Live, which adds Bluetooth connectivity. Answer your phone, scroll through playlists, send text messages, track yourself and your friends on trail maps for 300 resorts and, eventually, preview your helmet camera footage. At the end of the day, download all the data onto Recon HQ, the company's software, where you can re-live your day on Google Earth.

WHY IT RULES:
Compared to other devices that measure speed, vertical and more, nothing comes close to the ease of use and accuracy of MOD. GPS-derived speed is simple to measure on the horizontal but add vertical drop and accuracy declines. Recon developed a sophisticated algorithm to combine the GPS data and pressure readings for radar-precise speeds. It's easy to self mount and the only difference from normal goggles is that they're a little wider to accommodate the MOD unit. But you'll likely forgive your bug-eyed look when you send a text without taking your gloves off. Bottom line, Springgay says, "MOD Live can be personalized to the individual's use so it will change their on-hill experience in whatever way they choose."

WHERE TO FIND IT:
You can find the Recon MOD at Reconinstruments.com, which also offers links to the goggle manufacturers they've partnered with.